Sunday, March 7, 2010

What did I have to say about 3M last semester?

The key terminal value of 3M’s company culture is innovation. In fact, in the opening of this case, it is referred to as the lifeblood of the organization. Another of the company’s terminal values is to continually produce quality growth.

The company’s instrumental values include being creative and taking risks. They feel they gain a lot, even from a failure. Persistence and diligence are some other instrumental values at the company. This is what insures that the innovative idea makes it to market rather than just being a light bulb over someone’s head.

The company is very customer-oriented, as well. In the 1990’s, they began doing more intricate Market Research. They hope that this will help them better identify customer’s current and future needs. Operating units are intentionally small so that the members will get to know their customers. Staying close to the customer is an integral part of 3M’s innovation. This company has a very open and organic culture.

3M Corp makes sure employees know that innovation is a top priority. They also provide them with freedom and resources to make it happen. There is a company goal that at least twenty-five percent of their growth each year is through new product development. They evaluate each operating unit on their contribution to this goal. The company continually reassesses if barriers to innovation have developed. The company cultivates both improvements in, as well as new products or technologies.

At 3M, innovation is recognized by two different awards, The Golden Step and The Carleton Society. All of their operating units are encouraged to spend time planning and setting priorities for product development.

All of the operating units at 3M are encouraged to spend time planning and setting priorities for product development. The company has increased spending on the Research and Development department in the last decade from 4.6 percent to 6.3 percent of sales. They have divided their research into three divisions, whereas each one works on research at which will be used at different time spans. Anyone in the company who needs it has access to any of the company’s technical research.

This company gives a lot of property rights to their employees. 3M not only allows, but encourages their employees to use fifteen percent of their time on projects of their own choosing. A policy like this goes a long way in making an employee feel they are valued by their employer. As stated in class, when an employee feels valued, they are more productive and company turnover rates tend to be lower.

As for company ethics, 3M was taking the proactive approach in environmental issues over three decades ago, as seen in their benchmark program, Pollution Prevention Pays launched thirty-four years ago.* They have several programs endorsing environmental awareness. As with the rest of the organization’s organic culture, they involve their employees in these programs. This is a company that believes in uncompromising honesty and integrity.


1 comment:

  1. >They feel they gain a lot, even from a failure.

    They didn't always feel this way. I remember reading an anecdote in Tom Peter's "In Search of Excellence" (published 1982) that showed why failure is tolerated in their culture now.

    3M ultimately got into the business of supplying granules for use on top of asphalt shingles because a worker persisted in trying to find a use for minerals that had been rejected in the use of sandpaper.

    He spent so much time and effort on this project, the company fired him for it. However, he continued to come to work everyday to work on the project anyway. That man eventually produced a viable product out of his efforts and a Roofing Granules Division was created which, as of 1982, continued to produce substantial revenue for 3M. The worker retired around 1972 as VP of the new division.

    This story is the one that has resonated with me the most since reading that book in the mid-90's.